As Homer Simpson shouted when stuck in the bottom of a deep hole, “Dig up!”
Throughout his NBA career, 1997-2014, Stephen Jackson was a load to endure. Fines, suspensions, criminal recklessness in a strip-club hassle, Twitter-issued physical threats.
He played a leading role, and not as a peacemaker, in that infamous brawl with fans during a Pacers-Pistons game in 2004. Small wonder he played for nine NBA teams.
But Matt Barnes, a college man — UCLA — who played in the NBA for 12 different teams from 2004-17, was worse. Arrests, fines suspensions, hollered on-court vulgarities, an ugly public love triangle hassle with Knicks coach Derek Fisher, he was the modern Bad News Barnes, among the most uncivilized acts in NBA history.
During a playoff game, Barnes actually swapped nasty words with James Harden’s mother — but claimed she started it.
Thus, the Showtime network probably thought it was an act of pure, new-age cable TV genius when it decided to pair Jackson and Barnes in a weekly talk show, “All the Smoke,” on Showtime’s YouTube channel. Based on content, however, it should have been titled “All the Mother-f—ers.”
Yep, another network rewarding the worst for having done their best to wreck the sport they played.
Based on a list of shows, “All the Smoke” only invites black men and women to appear — ballplayers, rappers, including the ubiquitous dumpster-dweller Snoop Dogg, and sportscasters, including ESPN dialect chameleon Stephen A. Smith. Many of those guests seemed more than pleased to join the hosts in advancing or least perpetuating every damning stereotype about African-America’s self-enslaving values.
Last week, as if to prove that their discretion and sense of right from wrong are worthless if not worse, their special guest was Adam “Pacman” Jones, still synonymous with everything that lays the NFL low.
Jones was treated like royalty. Despite repeatedly betraying his teams’ winning goals with me-first flags, fines and suspensions — a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty cost his Bengals a playoff win — and an episode in which one of his “crew” left a Las Vegas strip-club bouncer shot and paralyzed for life — Jones professed to love Cincinnati and its fans.
Almost as much he loves pot, which he said he smoked “before every game.”
Among Jones’ more infamous on-field highlights-package moments was the 2015 episode in which he tore the helmet off receiver Amari Cooper, then slammed his opponent’s unguarded head into the ground.
Roger Goodell and the NFLPA might have — should have — done their most to finally ban Jones from the NFL, ending his inclination to physically imperil players and the sport, but instead he was fined $35,000.
“All the Smoke,” launched in October, was described by Showtime senior VP of sports Brian Daily as a show steeped in goodness: “Both men are eager to break down tough topics and engage in unfiltered conversations and intelligent debate with listening and empathy at the core, a novel approach in this era.”
What a load. Yes, “unfiltered” as in excessively vulgar. It’s not a “novel approach,” it’s just the latest in sports exploited to further desensitize its fans — good is bad, worse is better. How can a show predicated on bottom-feeding be classified as “intelligent”? Or are we relied upon to be that stupid?